GIRL GENIUS

Chapter 10: Rough Choices

While Edison was keeping a keen out for Mark, hoping to bring him to justice for what he'd done to Bryce, Bryce herself just wanted to forget the incident ever happened.

She buried herself in her work, busying herself with new inventions and experiments. She didn't speak to either Jenny or Serena in that time. She didn't hate them, but they reminded her too strongly of what she had been through.

Theora tried to speak to her, but she kept her conversations to the bare minimum. She didn't need therapy. She just needed to forget.

"Bryce, we need to talk," Theora said during one dinner almost two months after the rape.

"Look, just drop it," Bryce half-screamed at her slamming down her utensils and shooting to her feet. "Why can't you just leave it be?"

"Because I think you're pregnant," Theora told her. "In fact, I'm almost sure of it. I take out the bathroom trash, so I know you haven't had a period since then."

Bryce sat back down in shock. "Pregnant? By that beast? I… I can't be… not by him… please no…"

Theora's words from her first days as a girl came back to her.

Birth control of any kind was forbidden by the government.

"How soon can we find out?" Bryce asked.

"We can buy a pregnancy test at the store. You can know as early as tomorrow morning."

Bryce could not sleep that night. Her dreams will filled with nightmares of Mark. Mark thrusting at her. Mark with his hands at her throat. Baby-sized Mark bursting out of her stomach like some nightmarish alien from an old movie, killing her as he emerged with a triumphant wail.

Bryce woke with a cry.

She looked over at Theora's side of the large bed and was half-relieved that she hadn't woken her. Deciding not to take the chance, she moved to the car sofa and curled up under a patchwork quilt.

Theora bought the test for Bryce early the next morning, being careful not to wake the girl.

Bryce was just waking up when Theora got back.

"Here," Theora handed it to her. "Just take this into the bathroom and follow the instructions."

Bryce nodded and disappeared into the bathroom. A few minutes later, Theora heard a scream of anguish.

Bryce staggered out of the bathroom, her expression was one of grief and horror.

"Please, Theora," she said. "I don't want this baby. Please tell me I don't have to have it."

"I'm sorry," Theora told her. "If you want we can arrange for someone to adopt it. But you do have to carry the baby."

Bryce collapsed onto the bed and buried her face in her hands.

"It's better than having to bring it up," she decided. "But I wish I never met that bastard who did this to me."

The next few months were hard on Bryce. She buried herself even more deeply in her work, ignoring the baby inside her as much as possible. She kept herself healthy at the behest of the adoption agency which had explained to her that they would not accept an undernourished baby. But she did not talk to her belly, nor did she caress it protectively at night. She simply behaved indifferently toward it.

Theora watched her, sadly. Pregnancy was meant to be a happy time in a woman's life. Not this period of darkness that Bryce was so obviously going through.

They sat on the sofa and watched TV together. As they watched the happy family of puppies on Pete and Pets, Bryce felt a movement inside herself.

Her eyes remained focused on the pups, but her hand moved to her tummy as if of its own accord.

Theora saw this. It was a delicate moment and she decided not to interrupt it with words.

Bryce spend the rest of the time the show was on thinking of her baby… not Mark's baby… not some random couple's baby… but her baby for the first time.

"I can't do it, Theora," she said. "I can't give her up."

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